Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Ambassador Nelson Ledsky
LEDSKY: In retrospect, I would have to say “yes.” I was fascinated by the war. I think I had a map in my bedroom dotted with pins and flags marking the movement of allied forces through Europe and the Pacific. I remember that I learned a lot of geography by following the course of the war by using information gathered from the newspapers and the radio. I was a junior air-raid warden in Cleveland, and I was involved in some war preparations that were taking place at the time. These were volunteer activities most often organized by my junior and senior high schools. As I said, I graduated from high school in 194two years after the end of the war, so that much of my secondary education took place during the war. The war was undoubtedly a major factor in bringing the war into my horizons. Essentially, I led a very parochial and insular life. I didn't travel, not leaving Cleveland until I graduated from high school. Therefore, the war did expand my knowledge of the larger world.
Q: You said that when you graduated from high school you had no idea of where you were heading. But you did choose a college?
LEDSKY: I had no inkling about my future. As for the college, I didn't have much choice. I went to Western Reserve Universiton a street car. I paid for my first two years of tuition with funds I had saved from my summer employment and after-school work earnings. I had about three or four thousand dollars in my bank account when I graduated from high school. My parents could not contribute to my education; therefore, my choice of college was greatly narrowed by my financial situation. I had to apply to the university which was closest to home and cheapest to reach by street car. When I was in high school, we took a number of college entrance exams which allowed me to earn a scholarship to a state university. I could therefore have attended Ohio State or any other state university, of which there were about seven or eight at the time, but I could not afford to live away from home. My cousins had attended Ohio State and many of my friends ended up there as well. But Columbus, Ohio, was not within my financial means.
Q: Were you encouraged to attend college?
LEDSKY: I don't think “encouraged” is probably the right word. There was a certain amount of peer pressure, since all of my friends from Glenville High opted to attend undergraduate schools. I had no idea about what I might do if I did not pursue higher education. I had no idea about what I might do in college either, but at least attending college would give me more time to consider my future. I guess my decision to participate in higher education was mostly just to “follow the crowd” rather than a conscious, well-thought-out decision.
Q: You mentioned earning money during the summers and after school? What kind of jobs were these?